1. Palmer is filled with dread and apprehension at the approach of his tenth birthday. How can the perceived need to do something you don't want to do create these emotions?
2. Palmer's initiation rite into the gang was "the treatment" administered by Farquar. Have you ever experienced an initiation rite? Describe the rite.
3. What makes young people pick on others, call them names, harass them? What is a bully? Why does Palmer become a bully toward his friend Dorothy? Why doesn't Dorothy retaliate?
4. Explain what Spinelli means by the statement "Palmer had the sense that he was seeing more than a game, that Henry was not just a member of the group, but also its prey" (pages 16-17).
5. Explain the reactions of Palmer, his mother, and his father to "the treatment" Palmer received from Farquar.
6. Spinelli uses imagery to create a picture of death and a callous, almost festive, attitude toward it in chapter 8. How does he accomplish this? Why does he do this?
7. On Palmer's ninth birthday his father makes him a gift of the toy metal soldiers. Palmer had been allowed to play with them only with his father's permission before, and now they are his to keep in his room. Up until this time they have been a source of pleasure, but as Palmer becomes more aware of the fate of the pigeons, his view of guns begins to change. Explain the evolution of that change.
8. On pages 112 and 113, Dorothy finally reacts to the treestumping, but not the way Palmer expects. What does she mean when she asks, "Why are you doing this to me?"
9. How has Nipper complicated Palmer's life?
10. On page 129 Palmer finally expresses all he has been thinking and feeling for years. Why is he suddenly able to tell Dorothy he does not want to be a wringer when he has never been able to talk about it before?
11. In chapter 25, Palmer really has a problem when...
(The entire section contains 494 words.)
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